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Dreamland 2 (Part 2 of 2)

"Dreamland II," the conclusion to the X-files' first foray into two-part comedies, was better than the first episode but it didn't salvage this story arc. Granted, "Dreamland II" was better than 98 percent of the drivel currently beamed into our living rooms, but as an X-file it was lacking.

Here's a full rundown on what happened:

A grainy home video splashes across the screen and we see the pre-pubescent version of Fox Mulder as he dances in his childhood living room, struggling to impersonate Dr. Spock (the Vulcan, not the pediatrician). The voice of Morris Fletcher, who took the form of Mulder in "Dreamland," explains that Mulder is a brilliant man who threw away a great future. His obsession with finding his abducted sister and proving the existence of aliens has ruined him, but now that Morris Fletcher has assumed the role of the dashing FBI agent, things are going to change.

The self-improvement of Fox Mulder will have to wait until a mess in Nevada can be sorted out. When we last saw our intrepid crew of body jumpers, Mulder (as Morris Fletcher) was being arrested at a service station by a heavily-armed group of MP's. "Dreamland II's" action picks up outside the service station as Mulder is tossed in an Area 51 Jeep and Scully wanders after her screaming partner with that "I wonder if that was really Mulder" look drawn across her face.

Mulder is also expressing bewilderment as he's brought to the inner recesses of Area 51 and thrown in a Plexiglas cell. In the adjacent cell he sees the cackling form of Mrs. Lana Chee, the 75-year-old Hopi Indian woman who experienced a body jump with Captain Robert McDonough, the pilot of the downed aircraft seen in "Dreamland." Mrs. Chee/McDonough tells Mulder that they've both been "officially disappeared," adding emphasis by gyrating and flicking her cigarette. Mulder is properly disconcerted at this sight. Fortunately, Mulder is summoned by General Wegman (the uppity-up in charge of Area 51), so his time with Mrs. Chee comes to an end.

Mulder is given the Spanish Inquisition by the General. The flight data recorder that Mulder swiped in "Dreamland" isn't the one from the downed top-secret aircraft, it's from a different crash. This is news to Mulder but he senses a way out and goes with the flow. Working on the fly, Mulder claims that he gave the FBI the wrong data recorder to discover Area 51's leak. In a manner of seconds Mulder has gone from goat to golden boy. General Wegman is impressed with Mulder's fortitude but he's sorely disappointed with the actions of Mulder's co-workers, who ratted on him. So Mulder is off the hook, but now he'll have to face the scorn of his angry peers.

Mulder is released from one prison only to immerse himself in another. He arrives at Fletcher's suburban house and faces the wrath of Joanne Fletcher. Instead of continuing the facade he tells Joanne the truth, but of course, she doesn't buy it. She's obtained a restraining order and has decorated the front lawn with Fletcher's belongings. When Mulder tries to tell her that he works with "Special Agent Dana Scully" she retorts "Special TRAMP Dana Scully!" Mulder does his best, but Joanne is hellbent on kicking him to the curb.

Back in D.C. Scully grudgingly walks to her desk and begins loading nicknacks into a box. She tells Fletcher that she's been suspended for two weeks without pay because of her unapproved trip to Nevada and her continual insubordination. Fletcher is flabbergasted, but before Scully walks out the door he invites her for a home cooked meal at Mulder's bachelor pad. She nods her head in acceptance then leaves.

After work, Fletcher picks up the necessary ingredients for a night of lovin', but when he returns to Mulder's apartment he discovers that something is missing -- the bedroom. He finds a closed door off of the living room. It's jammed, so he gives it a tug, and there, behind door number three, is a dilapidated room full of files, furniture and porn. Mulder's bedroom exists, but it's been used as a storage closet for years.

When Scully arrives later that evening, Fletcher has transformed Mulder's apartment into a respectable domicile. The lights are dim, the place is clean and the formerly-packed bedroom has been gutted and remodeled into a full-blown babe lair (the mirror above the waterbed is the crowning touch). Maybe it's the motion of the bed, but Scully is in the mood and her thoughts are anything but pious. She dangles a pair of handcuffs and tells Fletcher to submit. He turns, cuffs himself to the bedside table and looks back, but Scully's mood has taken a turn for the worse.

While pointing a pistol at Fletcher's head, Scully tells him she knows he's impersonating Mulder. Fletcher realizes the gig is up and confesses that he's been living the lie, but Mulder's theory that he was behind the body switch is incorrect; he doesn't know how it happened. Most reasonable people, when faced with a body-swapping situation, would work to win back their previous existence. Not Fletcher. When he jumped into the body of a responsibility-free bachelor he saw a way to escape from his wife and kids. Since Fletcher doesn't know how to reverse the process, things don't look too good. But just as the tension reaches a boiling point, the phone rings. The caller is Mulder's Area 51 informant, and this guy is the only person with a potential solution to the body-swapping problem.

The major players converge on the Little Al'e'inn -- a place where the beer is cheap, the crowd is rowdy and they don't accept American Express. Scully and Fletcher are there to meet with Mulder's informant and hopefully find some answers. Mulder has convinced Joanne to join him for a drink so they can work through their differences. Of course, Mulder's real reason for being there is to duck away from the undercover agents who have been following him since he left Area 51.

This is a confusing scene so I'll try to break it down by segments:

Segment 1: Fletcher (as Mulder) finds his informant sitting in a poorly-lit booth. The Area 51 deep throat turns out to be General Wegman. Wegman has brought a paper bag with him -- in it is the real flight data recorder from the downed aircraft. Wegman tells Fletcher that he disabled the stealth module in the aircraft so Mulder could see it, but his tinkering had a side-effect: it crashed the plane and caused the time rift. Whoops.

Segment 2: Mulder and Joanne have seats at the bar, but Mulder sees a pair of undercover agents come through the door so he tells Joanne he has to use the bathroom. Mulder ducks into the parking lot, looking for an escape. He darts from car to car, searching for an open door. He finds one, but he also finds Scully, who's sitting in the driver's seat, waiting for Fletcher to come out. Scully and Mulder have an impromptu pow-wow in the car.

Segment 3: The action switches back inside the bar. Joanne has seen Mulder in the car with Scully, so she runs inside to resume her drinking binge. Mulder comes in and is greeted by a glass of Chardonnay courtesy of Joanne. He goes to the bathroom to wash the Gallo from his face and that's where he finds Fletcher. Mulder is ready to inflict tremendous amounts of pain on Fletcher, but the beating will have to wait because General Wegman has entered the men's room. Presumably, Mulder explains what's going on and the three men hatch a plan to cover all their butts (so to speak).

Segment 4: General Wegman leaves the bathroom, gets the attention of the undercover agents and tells them to apprehend Mulder in the parking lot. Mulder is clutching a paper bag, presumably containing the flight data recorder. He insists it's a six-pack and an inspection of the bag shows he's telling the truth. He and Wegman exchange a knowing glance as Fletcher and Scully drive off with the real data recorder.

Scully is faced with a dilemma. When you're in possession of a top-secret flight data recorder, who do you turn to to decipher the contents? The Lone Gunmen, of course. Scully and Fletcher visit the boys' lair just as they're enjoying an ample helping of Frohike's exquisite "huevos rancheros." Scully explains her predicament while Fletcher peruses the Gunmen's latest newsletter. Fletcher knows who the gunmen are and he thanks them for perpetuating the stories he's concocted. "And what would those stories be?" the Gunmen ask. Pointing to a headline reading "Saddam Testing Mandroid Army In Iraqi Desert," Fletcher reveals that Saddam Hussein is really an actor named John Gillnitz who is called upon to cause trouble whenever the U.S. government needs a diversion. The Gunmen are unconvinced.

While Scully and the Gunmen search for clues on the data recorder, Mulder has a private meeting with General Wegman. Wegman says that he wanted to show Mulder the top-secret aircraft because he's had a change of heart. For too many years he concealed the truth from the American people. The truth is that Wegman doesn't know if aliens exist. He tells Mulder that the secret aircraft flown out of Area 51 are engineered in Utah, which means that Area 51 is nothing more than a glorified air base. Wegman, thinking Mulder has the answers, asks if aliens actually exist. Mulder doesn't have time to fully explain so he tells Wegman to rent "Fight the Future" and find out for himself (just kidding).

Things start to get weird(er) on the grounds surrounding Area 51. Three UFO hunters with limited language skills have come searching for spottings. A goateed character waxes philosophical about dancing UFOs while his companions -- a man and a woman -- search for proof of extraterrestrials in each other's mouths. Something rumbles from the horizon and passes over the three searchers, causing a gravitational disturbance and fusing the kissers together. The result is a Big Red commercial gone horribly awry.

While the young lovers come to grips with their siamese-twin predicament, Fletcher and Scully arrive at an abandoned barn near Area 51 to meet with Mulder. Scully has bad news: There's no way to reverse the body-jumping process. Mulder and Scully get a bit teary-eyed and Scully says "I'd kiss you if you weren't so damn ugly." She doesn't kiss him, but Mulder leaves her with a handful of symbolic sunflower seeds. It's a Zen moment.

It would appear that things are hopeless, but appearances are always -- ALWAYS -- deceiving. If the people involved had read their Relativity textbooks in high school, they'd know that time warps act like rubber bands. They expand, then contract, and if you place yourself in the path of the contraction, the ill-effects of the warp are reversed. Well, duh.

The contraction of the time warp begins later that night. One of the Men in Black finds the previously-fused kissers in a secluded spot suffering from nothing but hormones. The next morning Scully and Fletcher drive past the formerly-destroyed gas station that was blown up in "Dreamland." The station and the attendant are both alive and well, and the attendant has no memory of a fire. Back at Area 51, the MIB who discovered the un-fused couple finds a way to put Captain McDonough and Lana Chee in their correct bodies. Mulder and Fletcher can return to their previous forms, but they have to be in the path of the contraction.

Easy, right? It would be if Mulder, Scully and Fletcher weren't apprehended at Fletcher's house. Scully rushed there to tell Mulder the good news, but those damn MP's showed up in their white jeeps and arrested all three for treason. The fleet of jeeps drives down the restricted highway where this whole mess began, but their journey hits a roadblock set up by the time-correcting MIB. The players walk to the middle of the road just as the gravity train lumbers by. Mulder gets all squiggly and everyone returns to their proper form. The reversal leaves them all without a clue as to what happened.

Upon returning to his apartment building, Mulder receives a call from Scully who tells him that their trip to Nevada went unnoticed by A.D. Kersh. Mulder thanks her for tagging along on the trip, hangs up the phone, then walks through the door to his apartment. At the same time, Scully looks down at her desk and sees the dime and penny she found fused together at the Nevada gas station. Mulder discovers his refurbished apartment and quizzically opens the door to make sure he's in the right place. Apparently, the warp's contraction didn't reverse events outside its path, so Mulder has himself a new bedroom set.

And that's it. I admit there were some very funny moments in both of these episodes and I think all-together they were entertaining, but it's time to get back to the real X-files.

Note: This review originally appeared at Ontap.com. It's reprinted here for archival purposes.



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